Mariupol at risk of falling but Ukrainians defy deadline to surrender | Top updates
Russian forces continue to advance their assault in Ukraine, gaining momentum in Mariupol in the key Donbas region.
The Ukrainian port city of Mariupol is on the brink of falling to Russia as Moscow gains strategic military control in the eastern Donbas region after its ultimatum for the last remaining Ukrainian forces in the city to surrender expired on Sunday. Fear reached every nook and cranny of the already shattered Mariupol, as it continued to put forward a brave face against Moscow's assault.
Meanwhile, in the Kyiv region, air raid sirens were heard for the second day in a row, with a missile strike reported close by, while five deaths were reported after shelling in Kharkiv. Russian forces, after failing to capture the Ukraine capital and the sinking of its Black Sea flagship, have planned to launch an all-out offensive to take control of the Donbas region.
Here are the top developments of the day:
- After seven weeks under Russian siege, Mariupol appears to be Moscow's next target to gain crucial inroads into Ukraine, and possibly a re-attempt to take Kyiv, the capital. Moscow set a midday deadline for Ukrainian forces to their surrender.
- Ukrainian foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba described the situation in Mariupol as "dire" and said there may be a "red line" in the path of negotiations. The minister said there had been no recent diplomatic communications between the two countries at the level of their foreign ministries. Meanwhile, Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal said that troops were still fighting despite Russia's demand to surrender by dawn.
- In his Easter sermon from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Square in Vatican City, Pope Francis called for peace in Ukraine and warned that the conflict could lead to a nuclear war. “May there be peace for war-torn Ukraine, so sorely tried by the violence and destruction of this cruel and senseless war into which it was dragged,” Francis was quoted as saying.
- Russian armed forces destroyed an ammunition factory near Kyiv, Moscow announced. Russia also launched a missile attack in the wee hours of Sunday in Brovary, near Kyiv, the city's mayor Igor Sapozhko said.
- As Russia expands its military operations in Ukraine, it is also worried about the increased activity of NATO forces in the Arctic region. Russian ambassador-at-large Nikolai Korchunov warned of risks of "unintended incidents" occurring in the region, as quoted by TASS news agency.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has said he invited his French counterpart Emmanuel Macron to visit the war-torn country and see for himself the evidence of “genocide” by Russian forces, a term President Emmanuel Macron has avoided in the heat of an election campaign. The Ukrainian president had noted that Macron's refusal to use the term was "very painful for us."
- The war between Russia and Ukraine has been going on for nearly two months and has driven a quarter of Ukraine's 44 million people from their homes, leading to the deaths of thousands.